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DISCUSSION ON ORCHARD IRRIGATION.
The subject of Orchard Irrigation is one of vital
importance in many parts of the Northwest, In
this as in other subjects there are best ways of
doing it and there are poor ways. We wished to
present these best methods in the columns of our
paper for the benefit of our readers. In order to
do this we sent out some time ago, to some of the
most prominent and progressive irrigators of the
state, a list of questions on this subject of Orchard
Irrigation, which we reproduce below. We also
give the answers received, which contain much
We extend a very cordial invitation to any oth
ers who have had experience in this matter, to
write out the answers to these questions and any
other information they can give and send to us
No. 1. When do you irrigate? (a) When do you
commence? (b) When do you shut the water off?
No. 2. Is winter irrigation advisable?
No. 3. How much water should be used?
No. 4. What is your manner of applying? (a) By
ditches? (b) By flooding?
No. 5. How is the water measured?
No. 6. What is the cost of water?
Give all other general information on this sub
ject that you can.
Frank I*. Wheeler, North Yakima.
Editor Ranch and Range:
Replying to your favor regarding Orchard Ir
rigation, I would say that it is difficult to set any
hard and fast rule for the same, but a general re
ply to your query would be as follows:
No. 1 (a) I begin irrigating when the soil shows
evidence of becoming dry, but I do not allow the
soil to become dry and the trees to show the posi
tive need of water before I irrigate, (b) When the
ditches show moisture extending entirely up on
both sides to the level of the ground, then I con
sider the soil has taken up all the water it can and
further irrigation is only waste. Generally 36 to
48 hours acocmplishes the above result.
No. 2. I do not consider winter irrigation advis
able here, as we nearly always have snow or rain
sufficient to thoroughly soak the soil in the winter
No 3. I endeavor to use as little water running
in a ditch as will suffice to keep up a flow, the
slower the better, thus, no washing occurs, and a
steady soaking is accomplished.
No. 4. I always apply the water in the orchards
by means of ditches, a small furrow on either side
of each row of trees.
No. 5. I do not accurately measure the water at
all, simply aim to use as little as possible to ac
complish the irrigation.
No. 6. Having private ditches, my water costs
only the maintenance charges of the ditches.
It is my observation that too much water does
more harm than too little, especially in orchards,
and growers should aim to use as little as pos
sible and still keep their trees healthy and vigor
Charles S. Simpson, North Yakima.
No. 1. We generally commence irrigating about
the first part of May, or whenever the ground is
dry enough to require it. We usually allow water
to run about 24 hours at each irrigation, repeating
the operation three or four times during the sum
mer season, varying some according to weather
No. 2. Don't think winter irrigation advisable.
Orchard trees should never go into the winter in
a very dry condition. Should be well irrigated
early in the fall.
No. 3. Cannot estimate the amount of water
used; not very much, however.
No. 4. Manner of applying water is by ditches.
RANCH AND KANGE.
No. 5. Cannot give you any information regard
ing the measurement of water. Have no occasion
to measure it nor never have had any experience
in that way.
No. 6. The cost of water varies greatly, depend
ing upon the source of supply. Our water costs
about 10 cents per acre, besides work on ditches,
amounting each year to as much more.
A. Morris, North Yakima.
In answer to your request for information on
1. I irrigate in June, July and August, (a) I com
mence in June, (b) I shut the water off in the mid
dle of August in order to let the trees harden for
2. If you irrigate in the winter your trees are
liable to freeze and burst on account of the sap
3. You should use enough water to keep the
4. You should apply the water in ditches on the
5. We do not measure the water here.
6. The water costs us nothing, only our labor of
putting it on.
The Moxee Company, North Yakima.
1. Often enough to keep the ground moist.
2. Yes, when ground is not frozen and leaves
have not fallen off.
3. This depends upon the condition and forma
tion of the soil, some soils needing more than
4. By ditches. In all cases this has proven most
5. By weir or miner's measurement.
6. Owning ditches and right of way direct from
river it is not more than 25c per acre.
Orchard irrigation should be governed in sum
mer by amount of moisture retained in soil. The
soil should never be wet but should always be
moist, except surface, which ma. or may not be
dry and dusty.
Irrigation should cease at first frost, but after
the leaves of the trees have fallen pour the water
on until the ground begins to freeze. This insures
the growth of roots and insures a healthy, rapid
growth of top in spring, but I believe never hurries
These few remarks are from experience.
I am glad to see Ranch and Range taking up
this subject as I am greatly in need of more in
formation. W. E. Lawrence.
E. G. Peck, North Yakima.
1. (a) If my soil has become dry by spring
winds or by a lack of late rainfall, I begin to irri
gate as soon as possible in spring in order to assist
in development of buds, because I hold that in no
season of the year should my soil be allowed to
dry out, excepting during the months of October
and November, (b) In the heat of the growing
season I dislike to allow water to stand in my
ditches longer than 24 to 48 hours; but in the
spring and during the latter part of summer there
is no objection to letting it run for a longer time.
In other words, when the weather is hotter give
the soil less water and give it oftener; but when
the weather is cooler give the soil more water and
not so often.
2. I should certainly irrigate my orchard about
December Ist (by flooding), but for the fact that we
in this valley usually receive sufficient rain fall
during winter months to keep our soil well wet
3 and 4. (a) By ditches—the shortest ditches
possible. Fill full with water, a few ditches at a
time until ditches are wet through to end, then
gauge each stream so closely that it will not flow
far beyond the length of the ditch, thus using the
smallest amount of water possible. Then let it
"set" until my judgment tells me to turn it off. (b)
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